Steph and Andy’s Africa Adventure Chapter Three

posted 12th June 2018 by Danica Wilson in Travel guides
Steph and Andy’s Africa Adventure part three

Kaya Mawa Holiday

After our amazing experiences in Botswana and Zambia, it was time to complete the trip with a few days by the water, swapping the safari shorts for swim-wear. We chose a Kaya Mawa Holiday. Let me tell you all about it.

The notion of a Lake in my mind means you can generally see the edges of the lake, be able to understand its size from a birds eye view. Not Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the 9th largest lake in the world, and is located between Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique so depending on the country you are lakeside in, the name will differ.

How to get there

Kaya Mawa Holiday

From South Luangwa we flew from Mfuwe to Lilongwe, where we had a very quick and easy immigration process before boarding a small 6 seater plane bound for Likoma Island, on Lake Malawi.

The flight from Lilongwe to Likoma takes an hour, mostly over the lake, so you start to realise just quite how huge it is – it goes on and on. Likoma Island is in fact closer to Mozambique than it is to Lilongwe.

On landing at Likoma Island Airport, which to put into perspective is one airstrip, and one small building, we were met in an open 4WD lodge vehicle and driven the 20 minutes to our accommodation.

What to expect

Kaya Mawa Holiday

Kaya Mawa had been on my wish list for a very long time – having visited Lake Malawi as a backpacker many years ago, staying in a terrible tent without a sleeping bag, I was ready to return and experience it in new settings. Arriving at the lodge you are led through to the beachfront where the main area of bar, restaurant and lounge areas are – my jaw dropped. It was paradise. Within about 2 minutes I had decided I needed to buy a house and decorate it exactly like this.

Kaya Mawa is best described through pictures to really see the simplicity yet luxury it offers. The lodge is built into a horse-shoe shaped bay. The main areas are in one corner of the beach, all built on beach level and open fronted so wherever you are sitting you can face the sparkling lake waters. The buildings are created from natural materials (by hand, no machinery was involved in the any part of the lodge construction– mind blowing fact!) making it blend it with a style that is incomparable. Soft cushions and beanbags decorate the bar deck and beach front, everything is handmade and beautifully designed. Dotted along the beach are quiet areas to sit, a huge hanging chair from a tree was one of my favourites. There are so many places to sit and relax that you could pick a new spot each day. Most days you only see your fellow guests at meal times as the rooms themselves have so many areas to enjoy your time here.

About the rooms

Kaya Mawa Holiday

There are different room categories to choose from on your Kaya Mawa Holiday. The rooms vary in price; there are rooms for two, some with private plunge pools, others are family rooms with two bedrooms and there is even the opportunity to rent the owners own house for biggers groups or families. Each room has its own characteristic so there is something for everyone.

We were in one of their standard rooms, Mbungu, and it genuinely blew me away (bedroom pictured here). The rooms have been constructed around the natural rocks and boulders. We had our own private sit-out area where your tea and coffee was delivered in the morning, and a stone walkway to our own little jetty from where we could sunbathe on the two loungers, or dive off into the lake to swim or snorkel. Waking up here was heaven – I don’t think I have ever looked forward to waking up so much.

What to expect at Kaya Mawa Holidays

My daily routine consisted of waking up, swimming across the bay and back, having a cup of Malawian tea before heading to breakfast. Mornings were spent on our jetty either reading, or going snorkelling to spot colourful fish as if we were in tropical seas, afternoons were spent kayaking or paddle boarding. Early evening we would watch the locals come to the beach to pull in their fishing nets and see what they had caught before watching the sun go down with a gin and tonic in hand.

Meal times are set; breakfast was both buffet and a la carte, lunch was always an incredible fresh salad dish and dinner was a three course feast. Some of the best food I have had on a holiday, if not the best. Again, hats off to the chef who created it all with no supermarket within reach. His vegetable garden was award winning. Breakfast and lunch were taken on the restaurant deck and dinner was somewhere on the beach – a new spot every night.

Day times here can be as inactive or active as you want. There are many activities included in your stay; kayaks, paddle boarding, sailing, snorkelling and mountain bikes and extra activities payable are quad biking tours, kite surfing, scuba diving, boat trips and spa treatments – the spa is accessed via a walkway over the water so your treatments are as serene as they come.

One day we took the mountain bikes out, and were advised to cycle to town and find the cathedral. The cycle wasn’t the easiest given the hills and not exactly tarred roads! But so fun and good to do some exercise – we found our way to town which is very simple, locals going about their daily business and a small market. We found St Peters Cathedral, over a 100 yeas old and enormous – something I didn’t expect to find on this island!

The island is really safe so you can head off for a walk and explore on your own, those keen on football can get involved in a game with the locals.

Making a difference

Kaya Mawa Holiday

The owners at Kaya Mawa also run Katundu Textile workshop which employs local women, often single mums creating employment and income in an area where both are scarce. The women handcraft beautiful creations using local materials which are for sale – one can visit the workshop to learn more about it, and this is organised with the lodge who boat you around the bay to where it is located, or there is a small gift shop at reception where you can do some shopping. 

It is perhaps a good thing we only had small bags with us with limited space restricting how much I could buy!

Much of the decor in the resort is made and purchased through the workshop like the stunning pillow cases pictured here.

Summing up our

Kaya Mawa Holiday

We had four nights here, I would say spend a minimum of four nights but you could easily spend six or seven, and families will have a super time, fresh water swimming, huge beach for kids to run around on and ideal accommodation available. For those wanting a mix of safari and beach time, I think Zambia and Lake Malawi is a match made in heaven – I would go back and do this combination in a heartbeat. Malawi can also be visited as its own destination, for safari and beach with new lodges and national parks becoming more and more productive. Visit our Malawi page and discover what else the country has to offer beyond the Lake.

Kaya Mawa Holiday
Kaya Mawa Holiday
Kaya Mawa Holiday
Images courtesy of Steph and Andy